Pink Elephants, and Rivers, and Gilligan, Oh MY! (And Writing)


 Last week, Christina spoke about dry spells in the area of idea creation:
Some writers say that ideas are just overflowing with them. I’m not one of them. I go through serious dry spells on ideas. And when I do, I try to read other things or watch TV shows to bring them to me. But this week it hasn’t worked. I’m still waiting for my plot to percolate.

 A lot a writers call this writer’s block, which I do not believe in. (Holds hands over ears and sings lalalalalalalala to make writer’s block thought go away.) But, like Christina, I do get dry spells. Spells when my mind is so tired of writing that I can’t shut it off from the creative/demanding/make-it-write-right it gets into under writing pressure. I need to find a way to let it rest. Like Christina, I too, need to watch DVDs and listen to music and read lots of books and take lots of naps. I’m in one now, (dry spell, not nap) but I’m also in the last few pages of the first draft of the WIP, and I can’t stop. I *can’t!* Not and meet my goal. Heck, let’s be honest. It’s a deadline. Calling it a goal only makes me pretend not to think of the pink elephant deadline in the corner. And that deadline makes my brain so full and tightly geared that I have trouble not writing as much as I have trouble writing.
Yes, I am fully aware that I need to stop and do other stuff to clear out my mind. I need to make jewelry, dust, clean the bathroom counters which are coated with toothpaste goo. Paint. I *want* to paint my writing room walls! My bedroom walls. And I want to RV-travel to the Tennessee mountains and take a few rivers. But there’s that pink elephant deadline. Right there on the bottom of my screen, minimized but still powerful. Demanding. The muse with the whip and chains. (Hence my description of my muse which I will not repeat as I think it makes David’s eyes bleed. But I have been considering giving my muse a kilt…{You longtime readers will understand.})

I do have a few mentally restful things I can allow myself to do, things that don’t require long hours, longer trips, or large blocks of time. Today (Tuesday, when I started this) I took a river, a three hour tour. (Anyone but me hearing the Gilligan’s theme song?) It cleared my mind. The river, not the song. Now I can write. Right now. Or write now. (Just got off the river and my brain is already back to being too tightly wired.)

So. I am diving into writing and….

I’m back after four pages, picking up here where I left off. It worked—clearing my mind. Four pages isn’t much, nowhere near a day’s quota, but for a day like today, it is great. And I am not done yet.

Besides running a river, I can take a mental break and read few pages in a book. I am reading Unquiet Dreams by Mark Del Franco. It is book two in a 3 book (so far) series, and I read book one and three first. Usually it makes me crazy to read books out of sequence, but knowing a bit about what happens next is giving me the calmer read I need now.
I mentioned jewelry. I can pick up the jewelry WIP and decide if I like or hate it. And I hate it. It is disciplined, well ordered, cute, and looks like something my mom would wear, not something I might wear. I will likely take it apart and restring later it with a totally new look, something funky and way less regimented. What *was* I thinking?
I can also cook to clear my head. I don’t usually cook, but I might pull out the cocoa and make some Italian. Don’t laugh. Chocolate-and-tomato-based foods go together beautifully with a nice red and plenty of basil (basil on the food not the red.) See what I mean about my mind? It is anal and hyper and I can’t forget the danged pink elephant deadline.

David exercises, takes out his camera, Misty dances. Catie…do you take off when you have tight deadlines? And…what do you other guys do to clear your minds so you can be creative—not the big things, but the short, three hour, PG-vacation kinda things?

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19 comments to Pink Elephants, and Rivers, and Gilligan, Oh MY! (And Writing)

  • I take walks. I miss my dog for all sorts of reasons. (He died while we were in Australia, and I never really got to say goodbye. But I digress maudlin….) But one reason I miss him is that I no longer have that built in excuse to leave the house and take a walk for half an hour. Those walks were great for clearing my mind and getting me back in a place where I could write. Of course I can still take walks, but I don’t *think* of it in the middle of the day the way I used to when scheduling a walk was part of my pet-owning responsibility. Anyway, walking is a great, quick, inexpensive, not-too-disruptive way to clear the mind, get away from the screen, and give the creative batteries a quick recharge.

  • Oh, and “I’m in one now (dry spell, not nap)” “It cleared my mind. The river, not the song.” You totally crack me up, Faith. I hate the fact that we only get to hang out together in person one or two weekends per year….

  • A muse in a kilt, a whip and chains? Now I’m curious (David can cover his eyes there) and wonder if my muse has a brother he never told me about. 😉

    I suffer from idea overflow right now. I got so many for my Fantasy NiP that I now can’t find a way to restart working on it. I could blame it on real life stress, but I know it’s more a brain thing. The wee bugger thinks it’s on crack, obviously, and suffers from the Look Shiny-syndrome. 😀

  • David, I miss you too! And this word-play is what actually goes on in my brain when I am on a tight deadline — making sure I say what I mean the first time. It is tiring and tedious.

    Gabriele, I described my muse in a post last year. I’ll see if I can find which blog it was. If our muses are twins, we should get them matching speedoes. Ot matching kilts…

  • For a vision of my muse, see blog here titled:
    Muses and Deadlines, May 7, 2008.
    Warning for the faint of heart — it ain’t pretty.

  • Beatriz

    Faith, I vote for a kilt. Maybe your muse would even let David borrow it! 😉

  • I hate the fact that we only get to hang out together in person one or two weekends per year….

    You know, we’ve talked about running seminars and such, and really I’m thinking we’re looking for a good reason to hang out together. We should all just pack up our families and spend a week at the beach. 😀

    Faith said, Warning for the faint of heart — it ain’t pretty.
    No, he isn’t – Faith’s muse scares me!

  • Nope, not twins. Mine’s a tall Scot with longish dark hair, complete with kilt and sword, a Scottish accent (*drool*), and a damn charming, rogueish grin. The problem is he likes to hang around in pubs and pick fights and them comes home drunk, hangover, and with cuts that need stitching. Plus he drinks my Whisky.

    If he has a brother it would be Arminius who stole A LAND UNCONQUERED right from under the character who was supposed to be the MC’ nose. He gave me the same grin. “I promise we’ll have a lot of fun.” 😀

  • Gabriele, Your guy sounds like a lot more fun than mine — though mine is better behaved in the whiskey department.

    Misty, if Catie can get a cheap flight to the states, you are on!

  • Bea, I don’t think David would borrow anything my muse would wear. The pasties scared him off a long time ago.

  • I actually have a hard time clearing my head. There’s always too much stuff up there fighting for time. One of the things I end up having to do is write out what’s in my head from time to time, which is why I have blogs here and there and why I have more story beginnings and brainstorms laying around than I can count on my, and my family’s fingers and toes, quite a few ideas of which I’ll probably never get back to working on. Hey! Maybe I should sell other writers my ideas!

    I guess, strange as it may seem, I write to clear my head. However, since we’re talking muses, I think mine is a mischievous fae with ADD (but a cute one), constantly throwing new ideas in my head and prodding me with a sharp stick until I work on that instead. Losing things I’m looking for, making the house a mess, tying my hair in knots, but only halfway…remember the ADD. I wonder if they make Ritalin for fae…

    Actually, at times, I find that the same things that relaxes me when my Crohn’s is bothering me is the same things that sometimes help me think. A hot bath with some bath salts and a cup of coffee or tea nearby sometimes helps me order things, as well as reading a book. Oddly, when I’m trying to think, I’ve found that I can also be a pacer. I typically use our dining room to do this, pacing back and forth up and down the length and talking to myself. Yep, I talk to myself too…out loud. I sometimes answer myself too, but don’t let the people in the white coats and the too-happy smiles know that. The talking to myself I think is starting to confuse my daughter, because she keeps asking me what I’m doing and whether I’m talking to her. I have to explain that Daddy just does that to figure stuff out. Occasionally, snacking while writing keeps me focused for some strange reason, but watch out for the munchies. They have ways of making you munch when you’re not hungry. Sorry, got a sudden blast from the ghost of Saturday morning past there.

    I actually do wish I could figure out some good focus techniques that work for me. Deadlines tend to keep me focused, but not the self imposed kind. If I impose them on myself I know they aren’t real and I tend to shirk them. However, when I wrote for Eden Studios and they told me to have my supplement done on X date I was able to force myself to barrel through and get it done, because it was real. My payment, and my word, counted on it. This is one of the reasons why I think I’ll be okay once I get published and have deadlines, but the getting there is the challenge.

  • It took me a while to understand that a groove and a rut are not the same thing. Once I figure out what I’m in is a rut, I’ll do something that is totally counter to it — and sometimes totally counter to all my personal default settings. It’s a spiffy way to get a fresh perspective on stuff.

  • Daniel, I love popcorn when I write, the kind popped in a pot on the stove with real oil and lots of salt. Yummers.
    >>I wonder if they make Ritalin for fae?
    New book idea just popped into my head. No I won’t pay you for it! (grins)

    Radish (See I spelled it right this time!) I like the line,
    “>>…something that is totally counter to it — and sometimes totally counter to all my personal default settings.”

  • QUOTE: New book idea just popped into my head. No I won’t pay you for it! (grins)

    hehehe!! 😀

  • I really, really struggle with dry spells – I’ve just come out of one that lasted five years! I keep a notebook for scribbling ideas down, and during the past five years I’ve only written short stories based on ideas that were already there. Nothing new went in at all! I think my muse went on one of those round-the-world-find-yourself trips, no doubt having won the lottery. He’s come back though and things have picked up.

    But in a normal dry spell, there are things I can do – listen to music which fits the atmosphere of what I’m writing, going for a run, sit in the bath with a trashy romance, belly dance, Muay Thai. All those things allow me to stop the chatter in my brain and let inspiration cut through.

  • Anna, I am glad your muse got back. They are such irresponsible things sometimes. Very Fae. And you got it perfectly — the chatter in my mind was drowning out all the other words. Yes!

  • Tom

    Being a 6’4″ Texan with a beer belly…I like your muse.

  • My muse is wonderful. At least to me. I think the speedo and the pasties scare some people off. I’m hoping the kilt might help.

  • Thanks, Faith, for tackling this subject. I think a lot of my muse problems are coming from still dealing with the remnants of a move to another city and having boxes of junk to go through. Then, there’s the Rogue Mage roleplaying game that is going through editing that I have to be patient on when I’m not good at being patient. We’re getting there, though.

    I managed to get another article out to a gaming magazine this weekend, and I’m working on a companion to it in the meantime. No fiction ideas have hit me, and the adventure I wanted to plot hasn’t come to me yet. Still, it was a good weekend overall; volunteering for an event at my college and hanging out with my in-laws helped free up some energy. I think things are on the way back to normal.